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Balancing the Grind with Sacha Guggenheimer & Tom Hiney, Founders of SunButter

Marine biologists Sacha Guggenheimer and Tom Hiney are the founders of SunButter, developed with the passion to protect some of Australia’s most beautiful coral reefs from the harmful chemicals found in sunscreens.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

​Tom – Before SunButter I was a scuba diving and free-diving instructor and then was managing a conservation desert island in the Seychelles for two years. Which involved a lot of coral reef restoration, seabird monitoring and watching turtle nest on the beaches.

I then moved in to being an Expedition wildlife guide and lecturer throughout the tropics. Before meeting Sacha and shortly later starting SunButter.

Sacha – I studied engineering before my love for the ocean took me to Marine Biology, I did my Honours focusing on foraging ecology of Australia Gannets. Marine mammals were always my passion and I was lucky enough to work in an acoustic lab researching the vocalisations of whales in Western Australia.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Tom – I have a lot of energy so I need to start with something sweaty – a run, surf or home workout. Then I like to be at my computer (whichever location it might be in) by 9am-ish.

Lots of emails, strict lunch break and then the afternoon is touching base with our fulfilment team making sure all is ok and some more emailing. Lots of chats with our manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Sacha – My mornings start with a calmer or grounding start. I love to do some Yoga or Pranayama (unless the surfs on)

Then I work on the creativity side of things so content, social media, chatting with our marketing crew. Tom usually drags me for lunch, and we always try to wrap up by 5pm to have the evening to ourselves.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Tom + Sacha – COVID has definitely shown us we can be more flexible and work more remotely. We have been known to take laptops to our favourite surf break if it’s pumping. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Tom + Sacha – It’s really important, in the earlier days we’d be caught working all hours, weekends and late into the nights. But now we’ve set healthy boundaries to not work weekends, and to shut off by around 5pm.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Tom + Sacha – I think our morning routines have become more refined, which has really benefited our work days.

We are also stricter about our “Tongan Sundays” after spending 3 months living in Tonga a couple of years ago. (in Tonga it’s illegal to work on Sundays – you’re allowed to rest, feast and hang with your family – we’ve been known to add surf to that list but not much more).

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Tom – I love the Infinite Monkey cage podcast.  I love learning and it’s a good brain workout that’s not business related.

Some great books are anything by Simon Sinek and of course Yvonne Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing. I also love charities so really enjoy my inbox dose from African Parks, an amazing conservation charity with so many good projects.

Sacha – I’m bilingual  (English/French) and have recently fallen in love with the French comedies from the Montreux festival.  I leave the business books to Tom, and I look after our mental, spiritual and emotional wellbeing – I love Breath by James Nestor and My Year Without Matches by Claire Dunn.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Sacha – I love my Baxter blue light glasses, to remove blue light from all the screen time.

Tom – I guess phones and laptops are pretty vital to us. Also love our insulated leak proof take away coffee cups – ideal for coffee on the go.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Tom – I’d be pretty interested to hear from Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Sylvia Earle or Simon Griffiths (founder of Who Gives a Crap – and our neighbour).

Sacha – I’d love to hear from Jane Goodall or the Dalai Lama.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Tom + Sacha – I think if you start a business or are in the growing phase, it’s worth putting extra hours in, but as soon as you can, set your boundaries and find that balance. Also, a morning practice is vital. 

Tom – I am so much more productive after getting my heart rate up in the morning.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.